Saturday, October 18, 2003

How free is "free" secondary education?

There's some signs on the Hutt Motorway asking this question. My quick answer would be "not free enough".

According to an article in the Herald last month, parents are now paying schools $400 on average per child. That's $400 too much.

The reason for the growth of subject and activity fees and "voluntary" donations in recent years is government underfunding, pure and simple. They've heaped costs onto schools - in particular in the Information Technology area - but failed to increase budgets to pay for it. Schools are thus forced to turn to parents to make ends meet.

This simply isn't good enough. As a country we're commited to providing people with free education, and the government should live up to that commitment. Rather than running an enormous surplus, the government should be investing in its people - in us - and making our "free" education system truely, properly free.